The relationship between rap and rock has been closer than ever in 2017. With hip-hop acts Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTentacion, Ski Mask The Slump God and other new rap artists growing up inspired by the rock genre, the influence can certainly be felt in today's hip-hop culture. Taking their love for rock and roll a step further, some of hip-hop's biggest names in the genre have even covered popular rock tunes from back in the days during their shows. Most recently, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa delivered a chilling version of Radiohead's OK Computer classic, “Karma Police” during BBC Radio 1's program “Piano Sessions.”
No stranger to the rock world, Vic's recent cover of Radiohead's smash song is not the first time the Roc Nation artist covered a rock song. In 2014, during his Lollapalooza performance, the "Down On My Luck" rapper covered The White Stripes‘ "Seven Nation Army" song in front of a sold out festival crowd in his hometown of Chicago.
Another coveted rapper who covered an iconic rock song was none other than JAY-Z. After getting billed as the headlining act for U.K.'s 2008 Glastonbury Festival, Oasis band member, Noel Gallagher, criticized festival organizers months before the show for billing JAY-Z as the closing act of the festivities. In typical JAY-Z fashion, the Brooklyn rapper responded to his hater in a grandiose way. While taking the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, JAY-Z opened his set covering Oasis' biggest hit to date, "Wonderwall," while U.K. attendees sang along with the "99 Problems" rapper in the pouring rain.
Besides Vic and Jay's covers, rap acts like Chance The Rapper, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi and a few others, have taken a crack at covering some of their favorite rock songs.
Today, XXL looks back at the 10 classic rock songs covered by 8 of hip-hop's favorite MCs.
"Fix You" by ColdplayChance The Rapper
"Seven Nation Army" by White StripesVic Mensa
"Wonderwall" by OasisJAY-Z
"All Apologies" by NirvanaPost Malone
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by QueenKanye West
"Karma Police" by RadioheadVic Mensa
"Drain You" by NirvanaKid Cudi
"Say It Ain't So" by WeezerMac Miller
"Numb" by Linkin ParkMachine Gun Kelly
"Basket Case" by Green DayPost Malone
Rap meets Rock: the greatest collabs & crossovers
Linkin Park and Jay-Z - Numb/Encore
This collaboration between Jay Z and Linkin Park turned a lot of heads in 2004. Whether you loved it or hated it, no one could deny the impact it made. It wasn't the first time these artists had played with rock rap fusions, however. Mike Shinoda used to mash up Jay-Z songs with those of Smashing Pumpkins in his pre-fame days, and Jay-Z lent his music to Danger Mouse, who created the legendary Grey Album, a mash up of the rapper's Black Album and The Beatles' classic White Album.
Run DMC and Aerosmith - Walk This Way
This classic 1986 collaboration exposed both Aerosmith and Run DMC to new audiences. The original 'Smith track appeared on their 1975 album Toys In The Attic, but the hip hop outfit from Hollis, New York gave the rock standard a considerable kick up the arse.
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
Beastie Boys started life as a hardcore punk outfit, but soon ditched the guitars and picked up mics. Their rock sensibility meant that they were sampling classic rock riffs instead of drum tracks from old soul records. Sabotage features a huge guitar break and the trio's trademark lyrical dexterity. Plus, it has one of the most famous videos of all time.
Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood
Damon Albarn took a risk with Gorillaz. Not only was it a vast departure from his work with Blur (deeply electronic, extremely cynical, and…er…completely animated) but it also included a lot of rapping. Gone was Albarn's Britpop, cheeky-chappy persona, and born was a humble, integral artist who took his music seriously. The verses are rapped by Californian MC (and Ice Cube's cousin) Del The Funky Homosapien.
The Maccabees and Roots Manuva - Empty Vessels
Empty Vessels was already a firm favourite with Maccabees fans - it was, of course, originally called No Kind Words. After their second album had seen the band rise to becoming one of Britain's most exciting acts, rapper Roots Manuva gave the track a gritty reworking. Stripping the melody back to its dark, moody basics, Manuva displayed perfectly how guitar music and rap can fuse together perfectly.
R.E.M. - Radio Song
Kicking off the multi-million selling 1991 album Out Of Time, Radio Song is a rant against the superficial nonsense of commercial radio (what COULD they mean?) and features KRS-ONE of the legendary hip hop collective Boogie Down Productions. The rapper went solo shortly after this track gave him his biggest audience yet.
Coldplay featuring Jay Z - Lost
Jay Z's second appearance of this list is quite a departure from his first. When Coldplay became a stadium band off the back of X & Y, Chris Martin became one of the most in-demand rockstars in the world. And what comes with global success? A whole host of superstar friends, of course. Jay Z and Martin struck up quite the bromance (you can actually spot the aforementioned watching Coldplay's headline slot at Glastonbury 2011 with wife Beyonce) and the Lost collaboration was the musical result.
Arctic Monkeys and Dizzee Rascal - Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend
n 2007 Arctic Monkeys were well on their way to becoming superstars. Their second album Favourite Worst Nightmare had gone to Number 1 and a Glastonbury headline slot was just over the horizon. Comeback single Brianstorm featured Temptation… as its B-side, with Dizzee Rascal lending his gruff London tones to a verse. The two paired up during said Glastonbury performance to play the track live.
Blondie - Rapture
Debbie Harry brought rap to its biggest audience yet in 1980, with this pioneering track. New York clubs like The Roxy were bringing punks together with DJs, breakdancing crews and graffiti artists, and the results of this cross-pollination were spilling out into the mainstream via tracks like Rapture. The rapping may not be the best (in fact she's largely banging on about "the man from Mars" eating "cars and bars") but what it meant to the genre is unquestionable. It also references man about town and graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy in one of the best namedrops in rock.
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- Davy DMX
- The DMX Will Rock (Rap Remix)
T: Hello party people, my name is Sweet Tee
And comin' to ya quite live The Almighty Davy D
Now that we have the stage and the spotlight too
Sweet Tee and Davy D'll rock the party for you
He's gonna rock the spot while we say that rap
That's gonna bring the house down cos we got it like that
So sit back, relax, this you don't wanna miss
Cos Davy D is gonna rock, gonna rock it like this...
J: Hello and how are you? I'm Iyoni J
But I'm not like you from around the way
Where I come from we're rappin' night and day
But we rock to the big beat just the same
So while I'm rockin' to the rhythm, check this out on the floor
Because a Davy D mix will make you ready for more
So let me tell you people, never settle for less
Take notes from Davy D cos he is the best
T: Get yourself...
T: Strap yourself...
T: Guess who?
J: Davy D...
T: ...is rockin' in your town
J: We're two fly girls sent straight from heaven
T: To rock to the beat for you 24-7
J: That's right, we're here to rock
T: And as a matter of fact
J: There's not another DJ
T: Who can cut it like that
J: So if you start feelin' strange
T: Don't wanna go to bed
J: Cos Davy D's fresh cuts
T: Know how to mess with your head
J: Sugar brown skin lady with my pretty eyes
I've got a def shaped body and I'm energised
T: I stand 5'8' and I'm 20 years old
I'm so divine I'm worth my weight in gold
J: And Davy D likes spinnin' oh so fine
T: And of the world of mixin' he's the mastermind
J: So when you listen to the beat
T: You know it's comin' from the best
J: The No. 1 and only...
B: Davy DMX!
Find more lyrics at ※ Mojim.com
Chorus: repeat 2X
Davy DMX is here tonight
Now everything is gonna be alright
We came here to rock the microphone
While Dave cuts the record down to the bone
J: Devastatin', calculatin' and I'm one of a kind
There's no-one in the world who's got a rap like mine
Davy D, do your thing, I'll rock the microphone
I'll make all you people feel right at home
So if you really wanna see Davy cut that beat
You know you gotta be ready, there's no repeat
Rockin' to the beat, he took 'em every time
There's no way that you could stick to the same old rhyme
When he's rockin' it you know that it's the very best
He should never be compared to all the rest
The highs, the lows, you know how it goes
And Davy DMX, he always steals the show
So get with it, understand it, it's fresh and new
And only Davy DMX is gonna do it for you
T: Mixer, turntable and ! drum machine
And everything else that makes it sound real mean
Davy DMX rocks the party non-stop
He takes it from the bottom to the T-O-P top
Sittin' up there on a throne like a king
Turnin' out music like it ain't no thing
So do yourself a favour and have no fear
When the DMX fills up the atmosphere
With the sound of Davy D and Sweet Tee with the rap
You're guaranteed fun, don't worry about that
Cos I play no games, my raps are serious
They're so good they'll make you delirious
Gimme the time, I'll give you the place
So I can blow your mind with my pretty face
Cos I'm devastin', sexy, I'm sweeter than the rest
And on the DMX Davy D is the best
Chorus: repeat 2X
B: Don't mess with us, there's nothing to discuss
Do you know why?
Cos we're gonna rock... x7
- Previous Page
Over the years, there have been plenty of rap artists who have crossed over and worked with rock musicians. Sometimes... Okay, most of the time... these rap rock crossovers are pretty bad, and often they’re downright cringeworthy.
There are, however, some gems out there that everyone should check out from classics that opened up the doors, to some killer new tracks.
I've saved you the trouble of hunting these down and wading through the crap. Below are the cream of the crop only. Sure, there's some better underground tracks but we're here for the recognizable, famous acts.
Here’s a look at our Top 10 Rap & Rock Crossovers…
Take a look, hopefully you’ll find some great new songs you haven’t heard before. Please leave a comment and let us know how we did with this list. We’ll probably leave out some songs that you think are obvious choices, so let us know and we’ll include them in a special section.
10. Busta Rhymes & Ozzy Osbourne – This Means War
This one is border line cheesy and awesome, but it earns a spot at number 10. Fans of Ozzy will recognize the riff from Iron Man.
Busta Rhymes is very well known, after paying his dues and earning street cred in the earlier days, he’s gone on to do some more commercial stuff, for exmaple that song with the Pussy Cat Dolls, but he gets a pass because even when he features on some questionable tracks, he always kills it.
9. El-P & Trent Reznor – Flyentology
El-P is a true innovator in the rap game. At the helm of Definitive Jux records he’s helped usher in an era of backpacker rap, innovate beat makers and handfuls of classic albums. On this track, he collaborates with the man behind Nine Inch Nails himself, Trent Reznor.
8. Chuck D & Sonic Youth – Kool Thing
Sonic Youth are alt-rock darlings, and Chuck D is the driving force behind Public Enemy. Chuck D is one of two artists to appear on this list two times. Find out why…
7. Jay-Z & Linkin Park – Numb/Encore
One of the more popular mashups of late, Jay-Z and Linkin Park fit together pretty well, but then again – what does’t go well with Jay-Z? We’re giving a special mention to the Jay-Z / Jimi Hendix mash-up because it’s epic. However, LP and Jay actually worked together, so it gets the spot on our list.
6. Public Enemy & Anthrax – Bring The Noise
Another early crossover between rock and rap, amongst influential groups in both genres. Only one is still pumping out music and going on tour though (Anthrax).
5. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien & Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
This could easily be higher up on the list, but we wanted to leave some room for other artists, but Del’s holding down the fort really strong with two appearances in our top 5, this time in the group Deltron 3030.
4. The GZA & The Black Keys – The Drop I Hold
Showing some love to the Wu-Tang camp with this entry, where The Genius teams up with one of today’s hottest rock bands. The Wu-Tang Clan has done tons of collaborations since.
3. Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Here’s the only entry that features just one group. Did you know the Beastie Boys started off as a punk band? They blend rock and rap in Sagotage perfectly, here’s another one that could easily be at the top of the list.
2. Run RMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
This one gets some special points for being a trailblazer when it comes to unifying these two polarized genres. Both groups were and are still absolute monsters and chart toppers with anything they touch.
1. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien & Dinosaur Jr – Missing Link
The number one rap and rock crossover on our list is the 2nd appearance of Del on this Top 10. Not as popular as Clint Eastwood, but the flow and the way Del’s able to effortlessly weave his way through the music that’s laid down by Dinosaur Jr is just unforgettable.
Got Beef With These Rap Rock Crossovers?
You don't like our version of Clash of the Titans: Mic vs Guitar? Anytime you take a list of artists and put numbers next to their names and publish it on the internet, you’re going to have some folks who agree and some who disagree. An even funner game is to see which of these lyricists also are featured in the top 10 richest rappers in the world.
Do you think this list is garbage? Leave us a comment using the social media buttons below and let us know, we love to hear feedback! What’s wrong – the order? The names overall? Let us know your own favorites, or even put together a Top 10 Rap Rock Crossovers of your own and send it our way.
Jared H.Jared has surpassed his 20th year in the music industry. He acts as owner, editor, lead author, and web designer of LedgerNote, as well as co-author on all articles. He has released 4 independent albums and merchandise to global sales. He has also mixed, mastered, & recorded for countless independent artists. Learn more about Jared & The LN Team here.
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